To assess the impact of prolonged lockdowns on population growth, scientists from Italy analyzed fertility rates at the end of 2020 in 22 high-income countries and compared these data with those before the pandemic. Together, these states account for 37% of the total number of reported cases of coronavirus and 34% of deaths from COVID-19.
The results showed that in most countries, many people of fertile age decided to postpone the decision of the issue of childbirth. The most significant decline in the fertility rate is observed in Italy: -9.1% compared to forecasts based on indicators of previous years. “Anti-records” in the number of births were recorded in Hungary (-8.5%), Spain (-8.4%), Portugal (-6.6%). In the United States, the birth rate has decreased by 7.1% compared to 2019.
The only exceptions were Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. According to the authors of the study, this may be due to social policy and family support in these countries.
Scientists noted that these data are consistent with the results of surveys on childbearing plans conducted in Germany, France, Spain and the UK at the beginning of the first wave of COVID-19. About 73% of people who wanted to have children in 2020 decided to postpone pregnancy or even abandoned such plans.
In addition, in 2020, about 8% of women in Japan who terminated their pregnancies decided to take this step due to the pandemic. Most of them were forced to have an abortion due to the loss of their partner’s job or a decrease in his income, while others admitted that they were too afraid of contracting coronavirus during pregnancy.
“At the start of the pandemic, there was a popular media idea that isolation would lead to a baby boom as couples spend more time together. But if you look at the birth rate during other disasters and shocks, it turns out that in such circumstances, a demographic collapse occurs. Although, as we can see, this does not happen in all countries, ”said lead author of the study, Arnstein Aassve.
Note that the demographic results of 2020 in Russia turned out to be the worst over the past 15 years: the population decreased by 582.2 thousand people. The last time such similar indicators were recorded in 2003. The number of births in the first year of the pandemic decreased by 48.8 thousand. A similar decline was observed in 2002.